by Andrew Garda
With the Covid-19 forced cancellation of the spring sports season as well as things seniors normally enjoy their final year, the Montclair Local is honoring senior athletes with individual spotlights. We wish them well and hope that this is some small recompense for what is being missed.
Like every other Montclair High School senior, Isis Arevalo is doing her best to cope with the COVID-19 shutdown, which has led to canceled in-person graduation ceremonies, prom and her senior season of track.
Unlike many of her peers, however, Arevalo has a very personal reason for taking the stay-at-home order seriously.
Arevalo’s mom works as a nurse at Mountainside hospital, and like all front-line medical personnel at hospitals, has been managing long hours while her family keeps things moving on the home front.
Seeing her mom dedicate herself to others has helped Arevalo keep perspective in the face of understandable disappointment.
“I think we can either, you know, sulk in our houses and be upset that we’re not seeing family and friends, going to these events that we had planned,” she said. “Or we can kind of take a step back a little bit, observe the things that are happening around us and understand that this is temporary.”
Arevalo said that while things are difficult, the time will pass and people will be able to move on with their lives, head to college, continue their studies, see their friends and family.
It’s just being put on hold for a bit.
“That’s a sacrifice that is necessary in order to keep people safe,” she said. “I think it comes from a place of learning how to be selfless and learning how to [put] things in perspective. I think it’s better for me to hold back, you know, from seeing friends, from going to events, from school and things like that right now to make sure that this time in quarantine is shorter than it [could] be and that less people get sick.”
She has plenty of things to keep herself occupied. Along with her virtual studies at MHS, Arevalo is helping her younger sister with virtual classes for Nishuane.
“I carve out a few hours a day because I have to teach her,” she said. “So, I think kind of my biggest — I wouldn’t say struggle, but I’d say adjustment — was just trying to manage my time. That way we can fit both of our online learning schedules together.”
While she isn’t a teacher, Arevalo works hard to make sure her sister gets as much as she can out of first grade under the circumstances.
As many have discovered as the state shelters in place, part of being able to take care of those in the household means taking care of yourself.
Arevalo was set to run longer distance races during the MHS track and field season, something that was postponed before recently being completely canceled along with the remainder of in-person classes in the school district.
However, while Arevalo isn’t competing for medals and a championship as she and the rest of the Mounties had planned to do, she is still running. Instead of running for a particular time, she’s aiming for distance in the hopes that she can reach her goal of running a half-marathon before the end of the year.
She’s been using training outlines provided by MHS coach Daryl Washington to meet that goal, and the potential for a marathon run post-closure helps her stay focused.
Arevalo’s not just running to keep her body healthy, though that is absolutely a reason, but also to keep her mind clear and give her spirit a break.
“I think now that I’m focusing on getting some more mileage in, I have a longer time out when I’m running,” she said. “So that’s kind of my special time of the day where I get all of that kind of pent-up frustration [from] just sitting kind of that the computer doing online work. I get to kind of just let it all go and clear my mind when I’m running, even more than I was able to before quarantine. I feel like my appreciation for [running] has definitely increased.”
And as much as she is running on her own, she’s not really alone. She and her teammates follow each other’s routes using the app Strava and try to beat each other’s times. Arevalo has also been listening to a lot more podcasts as she runs, and as a self-described big music fan, has spent a lot of time with “Dissect,” a show that breaks down albums and artists.
She also spends time doing puzzles with her sister and catching up with her mom. For her family, communication is key.
“We talk all the time, about what changes happen at the hospital, what she sees, both the things that she’s hopeful about and she’s nervous about,” Arevalo said of their talks. “So, that kind of keeps my perspective realistic about the pandemic and everything that’s happening, and kind of keeps my head on my shoulders in understanding the reality of the situation.”
While the district has had to cancel all of the end-of-year things Arevalo was looking forward to, she is still hopeful that she will be able to attend her freshman year at Princeton in person this fall. She’s aiming for a degree in civil engineering, with a focus on structural engineering.
“I really think bridges are cool,” she said.
Until then, Arevalo will keep running and helping her family out just as her mom is helping out others.
“I’m trying to do the best that I can and do right by my family, while still taking care of my own responsibilities,” she said.